Santa docks at the ISS.
The secret is out: Santa has no problem dealing with world-wide travel. We knew he was able to bend time and space to deliver gifts to billions around the world in one evening, but now we have proof that the secret is in his advanced technology sled. Images are now available showing Santa docking with the International Space Station and receiving a refueling of some sort of top-secret power source. This also explains how the world was convinced to work together to build the ISS and keep it manned even during difficult times.
Santa maneuvers over the ISS after refueling.
The images come courtesy NASA and the Canadian Space Agency and a bit of computer animation magic. You can find the complete animation at Parabolic Arc: http://www.parabolicarc.com/2011/12/24/video-nasa-falls-behind-santa-claus-in-human-spaceflight/
Soyuz rockets are used both for human and satellite launches.
I'm afraid it's coal for Christmas from Santa for the Russians. On Friday, Russia suffered yet another rocket failure, this time a Soyuz rocket third stage. The communications satellite failed to achieve orbit., and apparently has crashed somewhere in Siberia. This is the fifth failure in a year and a half for the Russians, and has many space leaders concerned. The major concern from the USA is that the Soyuz rocket is also used to launch astronauts and cosmonauts to the ISS.
TMA-03M 290 miles above Africa, approaching the ISS.
The satellite launch failure was tempered by the successful docking on Friday of additional crew to the ISS. Thankfully no problems with THIS Soyuz. The additional Expedition 30 crew will bring the crew total to six on the station, and full operations will begin immediately. THe crew had been limited to three temporarily, due to delays in the Russian launches caused by previous Russian rocket failures.
Without the Shuttle program, the US is totally reliant on rides to ISS with our Russian partners, who promptly began overcharging for seats on the capsule. With the dangers now inherent in Soyuz launches, I imagine our space insurance rates will be increasing as well. One can only imagine the true thoughts of our brave astronauts who have to ride the Soyuz at these times.